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UPSC Optional Subject Syllabus: History Notes - UPSC

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Table of contents
Paper - I
Paper - II
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Paper - I

1. Sources

  • Archaeological sources: Exploration, excavation, epigraphy, numismatics, monuments. 
  • Literary sources: 
  • Indigenous: Primary and secondary; poetry, scientific literature, literature, literature in regional languages, religious literature. 
  • Foreign account: Greek, Chinese and Arab writers.

2. Pre‐history and Proto‐history

  • Geographical factors; hunting and gathering (paleolithic and mesolithic); Beginning of agriculture (neolithic and chalcolithic).

3. Indus Valley Civilization

  • Origin, date, extent, characteristics-decline, survival and significance, art and architecture.

4. Megalithic Cultures

  • Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Indus, Development of community life, Settlements, Development of agriculture, Crafts, Pottery, and Iron industry.

5. Aryans and Vedic Period

  • Expansions of Aryans in India: 
  • Vedic Period: Religious and philosophic literature; Transformation from Rig Vedic period to the later Vedic period; Political, social and economical life; Significance of the Vedic Age; Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system.

6. Period of Mahajanapadas

  • Formation of States (Mahajanapada): Republics and monarchies; Rise of urban centres; Trade routes; Economic growth; Introduction of coinage; Spread of Jainism and Buddism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas. 
  • Iranian and Mecedonian invasions and their impact.

7. Mauryan Empire

  • Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya and Arthashastra; Ashoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administration, Economy; Art, architecture and sculpture; External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion; Literature. 
  • Disintegration of the empire; sungas and Kanvas.

8. Post‐Mauryan Period (Indo‐Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas)

  • Contact with outside world; growth of urban centres, economy, coinage, development of religions, Mahayana, social conditions, art, architecture, culture, literature and science.

9. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India

  • Kharavela, The Satavahanas, Tamil States of the Sangam Age; Administration, Economy, land grants, coinage, trade guilds and urban centres; Buddhist centres; Sangam literature and culture; Art and architecture.

10. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas

  • Polity and administration, Economic conditions, Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants, Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism, Caste system, Position of women, Education and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi, Literature, scientific literature, art and architecture.

11. Regional States during Gupta Era

  • The Kadambas, Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami; Polity and Administration, Trade guilds, Literature; growth of Vaishnava and Saiva religions. Tamil Bhakit movement, Shankaracharya; Vedanta; Institutions of temple and temple architecture; Palas, Senas, Rashtrakutas, Paramaras, Polity and administration; Cultural aspects. Arab conquest of Sind; Alberuni, The Chaluky as of Kalyana, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pandyas; Polity and Administration; Local Government; Growth of art and architecture, religious sects, Institution of temple and Mathas, Agraharas, education and literature, economy and society.

12. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History 

  • Languages and texts, major stages in the evolution of art and architecture, major philosophical thinkers and schools, ideas in Science and Mathematics.

13. Early Medieval India, 750‐1200

  • Polity: Major political developments in Northern India and the peninsula, origin and the rise of Rajputs.
  • The Cholas: administration, village economy and society “Indian Feudalism”.
  • Agrarian economy and urban settlements.
  • Trade and commerce.
  • Society: the status of the Brahman and the new social order.
  • Condition of women.
  • Indian science and technology.

14. Cultural Traditions in India, 750‐1200

  • Philosophy: Skankaracharya and Vedanta, Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita, Madhva and Brahma-Mimansa.
  • Religion: Forms and features of religion, Tamil devotional cult, growth of Bhakti, Islam and its arrival in India, Sufism.
  • Literature: Literature in Sanskrit, growth of Tamil literature, literature in the newly developing languages, Kalhan's Rajtarangini, Alberuni's India.
  • Art and Architecture: Temple architecture, sculpture, painting.

15. The Thirteenth Century

  • Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate: The Ghurian invasions - factors behind Ghurian success.
  • Economic, Social and cultural consequences.
  • Foundation of Delhi Sultanate and early Turkish Sultans.
  • Consolidation: The rule of Iltutmish and Balban.

16. The Fourteenth Century

  • “The Khalji Revolution”.
  • Alauddin Khalji: Conquests and territorial expansion, agrarian and economic measure. 
  • Muhammad Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq.
  • Firuz Tugluq: Agrarian measures, achievements in civil engineering and public works, decline of the Sultanate, foreign contacts and Ibn Battuta's account.

17. Society, Culture and Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

  • Society: composition of rural society, ruling classes, town dwellers, women, religious classes, caste and slavery under the Sultanate, Bhakti movement, Sufi movement.
  • Culture: Persian literature, literature in the regional languages of North India, literaute in the languages of South India, Sultanate architecture and new structural forms, painting, evolution of a composite culture.
  • Economy: Agricultural Production, rise of urban economy and non-agricultural production, trade and commerce.

18. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century‐Political Developments and Economy

  • Rise of Provincial Dynasties : Bengal, Kashmir (Zainul Abedin), Gujarat. — Malwa, Bahmanids.
  • The Vijayanagara Empire.
  • Lodis.
  • Mughal Empire, first phase : Babur, Humayun.
  • The Sur Empire : Sher Shah’s administration.
  • Portuguese colonial enterprise, Bhakti and Sufi Movements.

19. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century‐ Society and culture

  • Regional cultures specificities.
  • Literary traditions.
  • Provincial architectural.
  • Society, culture, literature and the arts in Vijayanagara Empire.

20. Akbar

  • Conquests and consolidation of empire.
  • Establishment of jagir and mansab systems.
  • Rajput policy.
  • Evolution of religious and social outlook. Theory of Sulh‐i‐kul and religious policy.
  • Court patronage of art and technology.

21. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century

  • Major administrative policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb.
  • The Empire and the Zamindars.
  • Religious policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb.
  • Nature of the Mughal State.
  • Late Seventeenth Century crisis and the revolts.
  • The Ahom kingdom.
  • Shivaji and the early Maratha Kingdom.

22. Economy and society, in the 16th and 17th Centuries

  • Population Agricultural and craft production.
  • Towns, commerce with Europe through Dutch, English and French companies : a trade revolution.
  • Indian mercantile classes. Banking, insurance and credit systems.
  • Conditions of peasants, Condition of Women.
  • Evolution of the Sikh community and the Khalsa Panth. 

23. Culture during Mughal Empire

  • Persian histories and other literature.
  • Hindi and religious literatures.
  • Mughal architecture.
  • Mughal painting.
  • Provincial architecture and painting.
  • Classical music.
  • Science and technology. 

24. The Eighteenth Century

  • Factors for the decline of the Mughal Empire.
  • The regional principalities: Nizam’s Deccan, Bengal, Awadh.
  • Maratha ascendancy under the Peshwas.
  • The Maratha fiscal and financial system.
  • Emergence of Afghan power Battle of Panipat, 1761.
  • State of, political, cultural and economic, on eve of the British conquest.

Paper - II

1. European Penetration into India

  • The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch; The English and the French East India Companies; Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars; Bengal-The conflict between the English and the Nawabs of Bengal; Siraj and the English; The Battle of Plassey; Significance of Plassey. 

2. British Expansion in India

  • Bengal-Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim; The Battle of Buxar; Mysore; The Marathas; The three Anglo-Maratha Wars; The Punjab. 

3. Early Structure of the British Raj

  • The Early administrative structure; From diarchy to direct contol; The Regulating Act (1773); The Pitt's India Act (1784); The Charter Act (1833); The Voice of free trade and the changing character of British colonial rule; The English utilitarian and India.

4. Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule

  • Land revenue settlements in British India; The Permanent Settlement; Ryotwari Settlement; Mahalwari Settlement; Economic impact of the revenue arrangements; Commercialization of agriculture; Rise of landless agrarian labourers; Impoverishment of the rural society.
  • Dislocation of traditional trade and commerce; De-industrialisation; Decline of traditional crafts; Drain of wealth; Economic transformation of India; Railroad and communication network including telegraph and postal services; Famine and poverty in the rural interior; European business enterprise and its limitations. 

5. Social and Cultural Developments

  • The state of indigenous education, its dislocation; Orientalist-Anglicist controversy, The introduction of western education in India; The rise of press, literature and public opinion; The rise of modern vernacular literature; Progress of Science; Christian missionary activities in India.

6. Social and Religious Reform Movements in Bengal and Other Areas

  • Ram Mohan Roy, The Brahmo Movement; Devendranath Tagore; Iswarchandra Vidyasagar; The Young Bengal Movement; Dayanada Saraswati; The social reform movements in India including Sati, widow remarriage, child marriage etc.; The contribution of Indian renaissance to the growth of modern India; Islamic revivalism-the Feraizi and Wahabi Movements. 

7. Indian Response to British Rule

  • Peasant movement and tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries including the Rangpur Dhing (1783), the Kol Rebellion (1832), the Mopla Rebellion in Malabar (1841-1920), the Santal Hul (1855), Indigo Rebellion (1859-60), Deccan Uprising (1875) and the Munda Ulgulan (1899-1900); The Great Revolt of 1857 —Origin, character, casuses of failure, the consequences; The shift in the character of peasant uprisings in the post-1857 period; the peasant movements of the 1920s and 1930s. 

8. Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism

  • Politics of Association; The Foundation of the Indian National Congress; The Safety-valve thesis relating to the birth of the Congress; Programme and objectives of Early Congress; the social composition of early Congress leadership; the Moderates and Extremists; The Partition of Bengal (1905); The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal; the economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement; The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India.

9. Rise of Gandhi

  • Character of Gandhian nationalism; Gandhi's popular appeal; Rowlatt Satyagraha; the Khilafat Movement; the Non-cooperation Movement; National politics from the end of the Non-cooperation movement to the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement; the two phases of the Civil Disobedience Movement; Simon Commission; 
  • The Nehru Report; the Round Table Conferences; Nationalism and the Peasant Movements; Nationalism and Working class movements; Women and Indian youth and students in Indian politics (1885-1947); the election of 1937 and the formation of ministries; Cripps Mission; the Quit India Movement; the Wavell Plan; The Cabinet Mission.

10. Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935.
11. Other strands in the National Movement.

  • The Revolutionaries: Bengal, the Punjab, Maharashtra, U.P. the Madras Presidency, Outside India.
  • The Left; The Left within the Congress: Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Socialist Party; the Communist Party of India, other left parties.

12. Politics of Separatism

  • the Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha; Communalism and the politics of partition; Transfer of power; Independence.

13. Consolidation as a Nation; 

  • Nehru's Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964); The linguistic reorganisation of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language.

14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947

  • Backward Castes and Tribes in post-colonial electoral politics; Dalit movements.

15. Economic development and political change 

  • Land reforms; the politics of planning and rural reconstruction; Ecology and environmental policy in post-colonial India; Progress of Science.

16. Enlightenment and Modern ideas

  • Major Ideas of Enlightenment : Kant, Rousseau.
  • Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies.
  • Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism. 

17. Origins of Modern Politics

  • European States System.
  • American Revolution and the Constitution.
  • French Revolution and Aftermath, 1789-1815. 
  • American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery.
  • British Democratic politics, 1815-1850 : Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists. 

18. Industrialization

  • English Industrial Revolution : Causes and Impact on Society.
  • Industrialization in other countries : USA, Germany, Russia, Japan.
  • Industrialization and Globalization. 

19. Nation‐State System

  • Rise of Nationalism in 19th century.
  • Nationalism : State-building in Germany and Italy.
  • Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the World.

20. Imperialism and Colonialism

  • South and South-East Asia.
  • Latin America and South Africa.
  • Australia.
  • Imperialism and free trade: Rise of neo-imperialism. 

21. Revolution and Counter‐Revolution

  • 19th Century European revolutions.
  • The Russian Revolution of 1917-1921.
  • Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany.
  • The Chinese Revolution of 1949. 

22. World Wars

  • 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars : Societal implications.
  • World War I : Causes and Consequences.
  • World War II : Causes and Consequences. 

23. The World after World War II

  • Emergence of Two power blocs.
  • Emergence of Third World and non-alignment.
  • UNO and the global disputes. 

24. Liberation from Colonial Rule

  • Latin America-Bolivar.
  • Arab World-Egypt.
  • Africa-Apartheid to Democracy.
  • South-East Asia-Vietnam.

25. Decolonization and Underdevelopment

  • Factors constraining Development ; Latin America, Africa. 

26. Unification of Europe

  • Post War Foundations ; NATO and European Community.
  • Consolidation and Expansion of European Community
  • European Union.

27. Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World

  • Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet Communism and Soviet Union, 1985-1991. 
  • Political Changes in East Europe 1989-2001.
  • End of the Cold War and US Ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.
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